In July 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Sainsbury's website, looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:
For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.
- in its Annual Report 2019 it stated it had "a bold ambition to be the Greenest Grocer by cutting carbon emissions from our heating, cooling, lighting and logistics".
- it stated " we have reduced energy use by four per cent year-on-year, through our colleague behavioural change programme"
- and "We achieve further emissions reductions by sourcing 18 per cent of our electricity from on-site renewables generation and renewable power purchase agreements"
-In its Sustainability Update 2019/20 it stated "Aerofoil equipped fridges are delivering carbon savings of almost 9,000 tCO2e per year" and also listed savings from lighting controls and LEDs.
The Sainsbury's Bank 2020 annual report stated that "investments include the Bank of England’s (BoE) reserve account, UK government securities (gilts or Treasury bills), multilateral development bank securities, government guaranteed agency securities, covered bonds and asset backed securities." It was not believed to have investments in fossil fuels.
For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding it’s climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.
- it was not known to be directly involved in the above industries, although it did sell petrol.
- regarding relevant sector-specific climate policies, it stated in its CDP Climate Change Disclosure 2019 that "Since 2009, we have been implementing a programme to replace HFC refrigerants in stores with more environmentally friendly natural types such as CO2", "Due to the high global warming potential of R404-a, we have been particularly focussing this year on swapping out R404a to a lower GWP HFC gas, as well as increasing our efforts around leak detection."
For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company), and to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).
- Sainsbury's reported its Scope 1&2 emissions in its annual report.
- It reported a figure for Scope 3 emissions of Purchased goods and services in its CDP Climate Change Disclosure 2019, of CO2e 12,546,000
For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.
- It stated in its Sustainability Update 2019/20 that "As part of our Net Zero by 2040 plan, we have committed to investing £1 billion over twenty years towards becoming a Net Zero business across our own operations by 2040, aligned to the highest ambitions of the Paris Climate Change Agreement."
- it also said it had signed up to setting a science-based target with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), but no target appeared to yet be in place.
The company adequately met the above requirements, but was a petrol retailer, therefore it received Ethical Consumer’s middle rating for Climate Change.